Friday, 2 December 2016

Rural Development Institute (RDI) - Career Opportunity


Two postdoctoral fellows are being recruited for this MITACS-funded project. The ideal candidates will have a relevant Ph.D. in a social science discipline, such as Sociology or Geography, with training in qualitative and quantitative research methods and analyses. Hiring will be based on demonstrated research achievements, strong communications skills, commitment to rural communities, and experience in community-based participatory research.

More details about the posting can be found here.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

R2B2 partnered with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC) to investigate Precision Agriculture Technology Adoption

Agriculture and Agri-food Canada’s (AAFC) Innovation and Growth Policy Division (IGPD) and the Regional and Rural Broadband (R2B2) project are working together on a study of how current and future connectivity influences the adoption of Precision Agriculture (PA) technologies among crop farmers in South Western Ontario.
The objective of the work is to analyze and determine the extent to which access to high-speed internet, or lack thereof, serves as an enabler/barrier to the adoption of various PA applications. We will also consider what impact, if any, expanded broadband coverage would have on the sector.
If you are a farm operator growing field crops in SW Ontario who is currently using, or not yet using, PA technologies we invite you to participate in the e-survey.
Updates on this project will be posted on site. If you need further information please contact

Friday, 23 September 2016

Book Review by R2B2 Team Member is published

Dr. Laxmi Pant working with the Regional and Rural Broadband research team in Canada (see was motivated to review Responsive Countryside: The Digital Age and Rural Communities, by Roberto Gallardo, to learn more about digitally engaged rural community development in the U.S. This review begins with Gallardo's contextual discussion of the U.S. countryside. It then considers Gallardo's examples of digital revolutions in rural community development and finally reflects on this book's scholarly contributions.

Citation: Pant, L. P. (2016). Digitally engaged rural community development [Book review]. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. Advance online publication.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Town of Collingwood Gets Internet Survey Underway

Anticipating the opportunities of broadband for its local economy and community development, the Town of Collingwood have launched an e-survey with the help of the R2B2 project and

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

September!! Back-to-School – and More Broadband Research and Learning Opportunities

The start of a new school year at any university is an exhilarating time. This year is especially exciting because of the July 2016 funding announcement for
The R2B2 project is developing integrated research activities in partnership with SWIFT and its members.  We use a range of research tools including GIS mapping, surveys, data stewardship and community engagement. Our aim is to see digital technologies support sustainable rural communities and regional socio-economic development.
R2B2 works with a wide range of partners and communities across rural Ontario in relation to the economic, social and environmental benefits of high and ultra-high speed internet project.
Here’s a quick list of our current activities in the R2B2 project:
  1. Understanding and advancing economic outcome models for rural broadband in SW Ontario.
  2. Assessing the influence of connectivity on the uptake of precision agriculture technologies (initially in field crops) in SW Ontario.
  3. Rural youth and internet hotspots at public recreational facilities (initially this is skateparks but we also expect to continue with ice-rinks).
  4. Community engagement processes used in rural broadband investment planning – the tools used, lessons learned and best practices.
  5. Comparative analysis of rural broadband policies and investment programs, including historical timelines and relevant theories-in-practice that help to build this interdisciplinary topic of study.
  6. Networking with other universities and colleges to encourage collaboration and share knowledge and also, to encourage the training of a next generation of digital rural development specialists in Canada.

More information on these activities will be posted soon!   

Thursday, 25 August 2016

V. Mosco inaugural lecture PhD in communication/Conférence inaugurale de V. Mosco. Doctorat en communication à uOttawa

You are cordially invited to the inaugural lecture of the communication doctoral program at the University of Ottawa by Dr. Vincent Mosco, Professor Emeritus from Queen’s University and former Canada Research Chair in Communication and Society. The lecture, entitled “Take Me to Tomorrowland: The Cloud, Big Data, and the Internet of Things”, will take place on Monday, September 19 from 7 to 9 pm at the Desmarais building, DMS 12102 (55 Laurier East, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5). The lecture will be in English. Q&As will be in English and French. The lecture will be also available via YouTube:

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

$180 Million in Government funding brings high-speed internet to Southwestern Ontario communities

The governments of Canada and Ontario are committed to supporting innovation and encouraging economic activity that contributes to growing the middle class. That is why the federal and provincial governments are providing up to $180 million in joint funding to improve high-speed internet connectivity to over 300 communities in Southwestern Ontario.
The funding was announced today by the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and the Honourable Bob Chiarelli, Ontario Minister of Infrastructure.
Once complete, the SouthWestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project will ensure that individuals from all walks of life have access to the new fibre optic network. From small-business owners and senior citizens to students and rural physicians, this project will significantly increase the potential for innovation and economic development across the region resulting in safer, more inclusive and more prosperous communities.
The total estimated project cost is $281 million. The governments of Canada and Ontario will each contribute up to $90 million through the New Building Canada Fund's Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component–Small Communities Fund. The Western Ontario Wardens' Caucus will be responsible for the remaining project costs.

Click here to read the announcement.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Chamber urges Ontario to expand Internet access in rural areas

“Access to high speed Internet is essential for Windsor-Essex businesses to compete in the 21stcentury global economy,” said Matt Marchand, president and CEO of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“It is critical that all regions across Ontario, especially rural areas, have access to this essential infrastructure.”
Tom Bain, Essex County warden and Lakeshore mayor, said there are a number of “dead zones” across the county; in areas such as St. Joachim, Emeryville and Lighthouse Cove.
“So many of our small businesses depend on the Internet for their advertising, for the selling products online,” said Bain.  “They get extremely frustrated when they can’t carry on business properly;  you need that speed today.”
Bain noted that the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus has long been pushing for ultra-high-speed Internet across the region through  SWIFT, a $287-million project that would be jointly funded governments and the private sector.
“We are getting positive signals from Queen’s Park,” said Bain, adding he was hopeful an announcement would be forthcoming before the end of summer.

Click here to view the complete report.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Hello Digital Equity!

Not long ago it was the fashion to talk about rural areas being on the wrong side of something called “The Digital Divide”.  In today’s hyper-connected world there isn’t much appetite for the simplistic Internet “haves/have nots” debate. In part, most of us realize that access to the Internet is anything but simple. Accessing and using the Internet is influenced by a number of many different factors – not the least of which is both afforda
ble and good quality of service. More importantly, as more and more services go online – including those related to community engagement and democratic processes such as public elections - we need to remember that putting something on the Internet does not make it accessible.
In their newly published essay “Goodbye Digital Divide – Hello Digital Equity (and why we have to Go the Extra Mile to get it)” Lareen Newman and Michael Gurstein, colleagues from the world of community informatics, ask the billion-dollar question:
“Do those proposing that everything move online genuinely believe that there are no longer people who aren’t online? Or could it be that this myth serves some other purpose – as for example acting as a way to choke off access to services, cut administrative costs on the backs of those most in need of those services (but most unable to access those services digitally)?”
Newman and Gurstein are taking issue with the idea that we need more Internet access because “everyone’s online these days”. In fact, we have to go an “Extra Mile” and recognize that not everyone is online these days and Internet use differs according to education level, reading/writing ability, rural-urban location, ethnic group and gender. Stop measuring “access” and think “meaningful use”. For example, how many rural residents are using e-health services, or are unemployed youth finding jobs in their communities because local employers are posting vacancies on their website, Facebook or Twitter? And one more good point in this paper, maybe there are opportunities for innovation by brokering meaningful use of the Internet to those who are digitally excluded?

Source:  Newman L & Gurstein M (2016) Goodbye Digital Divide, Hello Digital Equity. Available at:

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Dealing with the Double Jeopardy of Digital Exclusion in Rural and Remote Ontario

R2B2 project team attended the annual diThink  ORION Conference on May 26, 2016.

In collaboration with Compute Ontario, ORION  brought together researchers, research administrators, educators, students, policy makers and innovators from across Ontario.

Participants included rural and urban based stakeholders, including those from one of Canada’s premier food universities, University ofGuelph , and one of Ontario’s Northern universities, Lakehead University . Researchers at both of these universities address digital inclusion for the betterment of rural and remote communities.

Discussions at this year’s diThink conference addressed topics as diverse as digital individuals, digital inclusion, and more essentially the “uber of everything” which is a sharing economy spin on the “Internet of Things”. Ted Graham, Innovation Leader at PwC Canada, and himself a Uber driver, delivered a highly influential keynote speech based on his book entitled The Uber of Everything: How The Freed MarketEconomy is Disrupting and Delighting .

The discussions generally resonated with the diversity of participants in the conference as digital inclusion challenges were identified in terms of diverse cultures, abilities, ages and agility for learning. The problem is that underlying many discussions in diThink is the sense that the technology is the same in all communities. This is not the case, and so we need to recognize the “double jeopardy” of digital exclusion existing within and across diverse regions of Ontario, including the challenges faced by rural and remote areas.

The R2B2 team firmly believes that diThink is important because it is a flagship public engagement event that showcases digital innovation and science policy in Ontario and beyond. We look forward to emphasizing the importance of taking rural and remote issues into consideration as ORION continues its leadership on digital research and innovation and creative public engagement events, such as advanced computing workshops, regional roadshows, hackathons, and webinars.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

1 Gig Rural Economy

If you are reading this article, chances are you have taken an Uber, are familiar with Upwork and maybe even sold something on Etsy. Business models that fall under the “gig economy” umbrella have been proven for business-to-consumer and peer-to-peer markets because they make it possible to crowdsource products and services from huge communities of people.

Large online networks can also be some of the greatest sources of innovation. Led by the enterprise and government research and development verticals, this trend is growing rapidly because of a shift in focus from single-point services to the co-creation (collaborative innovation) model.

Click here to view the complete report.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Ontario’s Innovation Event of the Year: #diTHINK2016

R2B2 project team members are going to attend Ontario’s Innovation Event of the Year: #diTHINK2016 in Toronto on May 26 2016.


Digital infrastructure. It’s empowering the Digital Individual, giving them Digital Independence, enabling Democratic Innovation. DIYers can set up their own collaboration systems, undertake advanced computing analysis of crowd-sourced data, and create monitoring devices tailored to their community’s needs. Tech goes selfie for an inclusive future. Find out how this is affecting research, education and innovation.
View the agenda to learn more about how technology enables the individual.

2016 Conference Updates

Register now

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Agenda for R2B2 Symposium and Research Team Meeting

Agenda_R2B2 Symposium_ final [345449]

R2B2 Symposium and Research Team Meeting

University of Guelph Arboretum, Guelph, Ontario Tuesday, April 19, 2016
8:30 am – 12:15 noon (Symposium)
12:30 pm – 3:00 pm (R2B2 Project Research Team Meeting)


Welcome to the Symposium, Malcolm Campbell, Vice-President, Research, University of Guelph
Researching Regional and Rural Broadband in SW Ontario, Helen Hambly, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development (SEDRD)
SWIFT: Genesis, Current Developments and Future Priorities, Campbell Patterson , Consultant, Campbell Patterson Communications
Regional and Rural Broadband for Development (moderator: John Fitzsimons, SEDRD)
  • Grey County, Ashleigh Weeden
  • Niagara Region, Stuart Hendrie
  • Town of Caledon, Armando Narvali
Questions and Discussion
Coffee break
Ontario Digital Futures Panel & Discussion (moderator: Helen Hambly)
  • Reza Rajabuin, Ryerson University
  • John Jung, ICF-Canada
  • Kristi Kelly, MEDEI, Infrastructure Policy Division
  • Sanjeev Gill, IBM
Questions and Discussion
Symposium – Closing Remarks Wayne Caldwell, Interim Dean, Ontario Agricultural College
Research Team Meeting (R2B2 Project Team Only)
Working Lunch: welcome and introductions (all team members & facilitator)
R2B2 Research Methodology - Brief presentation of draft research methodology, Helen Hambly
Roundtable discussion & action planning
Final summary & wrap-up

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Regional and Rural Broadband (R2B2) Research Project: 2016 Symposium and Partners Meeting

On Tuesday April 19, 2016 the R2B2 project invites interested stakeholders from various levels of government and the industry, researchers as well as community members, students to learn about regional and rural broadband development initiatives within southwestern Ontario. 

This symposium is held in partnership with SWIFT ( The agenda features presentations about rural broadband and regional development from the University of Guelph and various SW Ontario municipalities and regions.

The symposium will be held at the University of Guelph Arboretum from 08:30am to 12:15pm.  Please contact us to register in advance (  

Update (04/13/16):
Registration is now closed.
Presentations will be posted on the R2B2 blog after the symposium.

R2B2 tries out the Analyst software tool

Local and regional economic development requires an understanding of the particular attributes of localities within regions. This attention to differentiation implicates the need for relevant datasets and a wide range of data including population age groups, types of business activities, skill availability and various government services. Relevant data to answer questions about phenomena within the region can be challenging to access. With training and access provided by OMAFRA, the R2B2 project is looking at Analyst, a software tool developed by EMSI. The advantage of Analyst is summarized as follows:
“Historically, you’ve had two main options for accessing employment data in Canada. You can get solid, detailed geographic data from the census, which is released once every five years (and two years late), or you can go with high-level province data from the SEPH or the LFS, which gives you data for every year but provides no detailed regional information. [Analyst] solves the problem. Taking advantage of the strengths of these sources, we harmonize them to create a single, complete picture so you can look at detailed, up-to-date employment data. We present the forest and the trees—every year.” (EMSI Canada)
R2B2 research team member, Mamun Chowdury, participated in a two-day OMAFRA training workshop called “Foundations for Regional Economic Analysis” to learn more about the Analyst software tool which unifies labour market data collected regularly from all the major data sources within Canada including Canadian Business Patterns (CBP), 2001, 2006 and 2011 Census and National Health Survey, Survey of Economic Payroll and Hours (SEPH), Labour Force Surveys (CFS), Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS), Postsecondary Student Information System (PSIS) and StatsCan’s main socio-economic database, CANSIM. Analyst gives users access to statistics on 305 industry classifications using the NAICS (North American Industry Classification System), 522 occupations from Statistics Canada’s NOC-S classification and 386 educational program types from the CIP (Classification of Instructional Programs) taxonomy.  

By trying out Analyst, we aim to identify local and regional socio-economic assets and liabilities that may be relevant to broadband demand and use. A key benefit of using Analyst appears to be that it helps to explore available data and relationships among the data quickly. This enables us to prioritize areas where we might dive deeper into our analysis or compare findings to project datasets. For more information see the OMAFRA webpage on Analyst:

Smart Planet Case Study by IBM

An interesting case study of Internet uptake of relevance to rural areas was prepared by IBM in collaboration with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI). The focus of the case study was an initiative to track disease outbreaks in livestock animals and farms within food chains.

MAFRI developed a system to identify the locations of farms and animals across the province. This system identifies risks from animal to animal exposure for various diseases.  The system consists of a digital identifier (d-ID) that uniquely marks each animal and farm. It also allows users to track the movement of the animals during their transportation. This d-ID system allowed MAFRI to formulate a response strategy for possible outbreak scenarios. MAFRI has successfully used the system to contain a small outbreak of transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) - a highly contagious disease that can kill young pigs. The outbreak was contained within few weeks affecting only three farms within a cluster in the Southern Manitoba area.

This case illustrates how connectivity enables institutional and technical innovation in agriculture and agri-food systems. MAFRI’s d-ID experience has important economic implications especially as Manitoba is the largest pork exporting province in Canada. Reliable connectivity and access to information in real-time are the key elements for this system to function effectively and efficiently.

More information about this case study can be found by visiting the link below:

Monday, 25 January 2016

Digital Futures 2016 Coming Soon on March 9 & 10

The Van Horne Institute is pleased to host its next Digital Futures symposium on March 9 & 10, 2016 in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Launched in the fall of 2013, Digital Future meetings and symposia have become must-attend events in Canada for rural municipal leaders and decision makers responsible for broadband enablement in their communities.

Digital Futures 2016 topics to be covered, include:
  • Rural Broadband
  • The 'Digital Communities' community portal
  • Wireless Policy
  • The CRTC's Basic Telecommunications Services Public Hearing
  • And more

Date & Time: March 8, 2016 - 7:00 pm to March 10, 2016 - 12:00 pm
Location: Medicine Hat Lodge, 1051 Ross Glen Drive S.E., Medicine Hat, Alberta

This event will be held in conjunction with the Local to Global Forum that is hosted by the Eastern Alberta Trade Corridor, which will be held on March 10 & 11, 2016.

You are invited to register to attend both the Symposium and the Forum or to attend the two events separately.

Registration is available by clicking here.

Medicine Hat College with the Palliser Economic Partnership will be hosting a Pre-event Networking Session at the Medicine Hat College Library from 6 - 9 on March 8.  Hors d'oeuvres and cash bar will provided.  Arrangements are being made to provide a shuttle between the Lodge and the College.

A room block has been made at the venue location, which is the Medicine Hat Lodge, 1051 Ross Glen Drive S.E., Medicine Hat, Alberta.  A room rate of $129.99 + tax is give and includes a hot breakfast.  Call 1-800-661-8095  or visit for more info.

Please contact Bryndis Whitson at or 403-220-2114 for further information or to learn about sponsorship opportunities.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Connecting the Field to the Internet Seminar

We welcome you to attend the Seminar - Agriculture 4.0: Connecting the Field to the Internet presented by Dr. Scott Shearer; Professor and Chair, Ohio State University, Dept. of Food, Agriculture and Biological Engineering.

Friday, January 22, 2016 - 3:30 to 4:30 pm
University of Guelph School of Engineering
Thornbrough Building, Room 1307

There is no cost, or registration required to attend, however in-person space is limited. A Webcast option is available and connection instructions can be found below.

Seminar Topic
Understanding "Big Data" and the "IoT" (Internet of Things) will be increasingly important for crop production professionals as we move into the fourth revolution of agriculture.   Scott will include discussion of impacts of historical changes in equipment weight and design and how it is exceeding the capacity of the land to support it and with climate change, soil health and other factors is likely to lead to adoption of smaller autonomous equipment. Scott will address this session from the standpoint of crop production, soils, engineering, and policy implications that the academic, extension and policy communities should have on their radar.

Speaker Overview
Dr. Scott A. Shearer is Professor and Chair of the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at The Ohio State University.  His current and past research efforts focus on spectral and spatial image processing for classifying agricultural settings, controls and methodologies for metering and spatial distribution of inputs (seed, fertilizer and chemicals) for grain crop production, and autonomous multi-vehicle field production systems.

Scott is one of our speakers for the FarmSmart Ag Conference ( on Saturday January 23nd at the University of Guelph.  Scott is available to join us on Friday and we are taking the opportunity to have him speak to OMAFRA staff, University Faculty and Industry Partners on Friday January 22nd at 3:30pm, in University of Guelph Thornbrough Building Room 1307

Webcast Information
Those of you who are unable to attend in person can use the following instructions to participate by webcast via Adobe Connect:

To be a participant of this presentation as a webinar please go to:

Remote people will enter the room as a ' guest ' and just need to type in their name.